Almost exactly a year ago, on May 7, 2007, Oliver Perez was about to battle the Giants and Barry Zito (remember when he was a starting pitcher?). I asked: Which Ollie would we see, Strike Out Ollie or Walk Ollie?
What does it say that a year later, that same question has come to define Oliver Perez’s character as a pitcher? By now, shouldn’t we know which Perez we’re going to get? Or, perhaps more importantly, when Walk Ollie rears his ugly head, shouldn’t Strike Out Ollie be able to put up some kind of fight?
We haven’t seen much “perfect” starting pitching this year so far. Even Johan Santana has had some rocky early innings. But the difference between Johan and Ollie has been that Johan can refocus, rely on a consistent motion, and get himself out of trouble. John Maine has become our pitching poster boy for battling out of a tough jam. We love him for it–how can we not? When he doesn’t have his best stuff, he gets by on sheer determination.
On his best days so far, Perez has given us 4 awesome innings. On his worst? He’s given us indigestion. Do I agree with Billy Wagner giving him a public call-out? Not exactly. I appreciate Billy’s fire and his willingness to show his frustration, and I like that he’s spoken his mind about the team. It’s the singling out of Perez that I’m not sure should have occurred in a public arena. But the thing is, Wagner’s right. We need Perez for more than 4 innings. Period.
So tonight, we better get us some Strike Out Ollie. For at least 6 innings. Or if Perez starts off rocky, then settles down after an inning? I’ll take that too.
But we shouldn’t keep having to ask Ollie whom he’s bringing to the mound tonight.